We call what we’re studying here “Scripture”, which means “written stuff.”
People have gone from an overly-reverent attitude towards scripture, to effective neglect. “There’s some very inspiring and ethically-instructive material in all that, and you can read it if you like, but we want to rush out and make a difference in the world.”
One thing you can say about that position: Anyone who adopts it is unlikely to “make a difference in the world.” If you want to know what’s really going on today, and will be going on tomorrow–Don’t read the news; read the histories. People are cheating, bullying, lying, stealing, murdering; and the histories will show you how people used to cheat, bully, lie, steal, murder, while earnestly proclaiming that they were doing something else. Oh, and blundering; we mustn’t forget blundering!
What seldom shows up in the news or the histories is that God is teaching, and people can learn.
Friends aka Quakers traditionally call this process “continuing revelation.” “Continuing”, to emphasize that God hasn’t stopped talking. “Revelation” to say that what we are learning comes from God.
We’ve traditionally thought of Scripture as ~what was revealed in the past. Logically, if it was Revealed, it must be true; and we must be able to use it for an authenticity check on current revelations. So much for logic.
Still, you can make surprising progress from that position. Practicing Jews, and Christians of liturgical denominations, collectively reread a collection of sacred writings every year– and every year, someone will find something he’d read many times, but never realized before. These writings are called ‘sacred’ because they lend themselves to personal revelations.
But they are not ‘Revelation’; they are tracks of the revelatory process.
A good tracker is someone who can study the ground, then tell you what’s been happening here. That’s the kind of tracks I mean. The ground is not a foolproof message from God; it’s a sketch of who’s been here and what they were doing.
The Bible contains many assertions about God and what God intended. People wrote them, and people have often been mistaken.
But these people knew that God was revealing ‘Himself’ to them, through them. The same process of living under God’s care and teaching, that’s been going on for a very long time, and if you want to understand how it’s working, you can look at how it’s worked in the past. God put a lot of work into teaching Israel, and a lot of work into teaching the Christian sects– and shouldn’t have to start from scratch with us.
What is being revealed to you? What do you want to know?